Insurers' Obligations to Defunct Insureds: Recent Cases, Arguments From Policyholder and Insurer Perspectives

Strafford Publications

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DATE: Wednesday, November 20, 2019

TIME: 1:00 PM - 2:30 PM

This CLE webinar will guide insurance counsel for both policyholders and insurers on claims made against insolvent, bankrupt, or defunct insureds. The panel will discuss recent cases addressing this issue and review the contractual, statutory, and common law arguments that counsel can leverage to best assert and defend their positions.

On an increasingly frequent basis, insureds often insist they are unable to meet the financial obligations specified in their professional liability policies. Some insureds claim they are insolvent, while others have filed for bankruptcy protection. In more extreme situations, insurers discover that their insured is defunct, and not only will financial obligations not be satisfied, but there is no one to assist with the defense of the claim.

Courts have affirmed the favorable standards applied to an insurer's duty to defend--even when a policyholder is out of business. Assuming the basic insuring agreement is potentially triggered, it falls on the insurer to prove that the allegations in the underlying complaint "fall solely and entirely within" an exclusion, with any doubts resolved for the insured. Even a defunct business entity may have insurance coverage that can be a resource to provide a defense or to satisfy all or part of a judgment.

Numerous states permit claimants to bring direct actions against an insurer, sometimes without joining the insured. Under Wisconsin's direct action statute, an insurance policy covering negligence makes the insurer liable up to the policy limits, even without a final judgment against the insured. Similarly, under both New York and California statutory authority, after securing a judgment against the insured, third-party claimants may bring a direct action against the insurer on the policy. So too, in many other states.

Listen as our authoritative panel of insurance practitioners guides insurance counsel for both policyholders and insurers on claims made against insolvent, bankrupt, or defunct insureds. The panel will review recent cases addressing this issue and discuss the contractual, statutory, and common law arguments that counsel can leverage to assert and defend their positions.

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- Insurance Recovery Attorney | Anderson Kill P.C.
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